Tips and resources for farmers and gardeners
Potted Perennials in Winter
Container gardening is a form of gardening everyone can enjoy no matter how large or small their garden may be. Those with only a balcony or patio can enjoy the pleasures of gardening just as those with areas of space. Containers can be quite elaborate, and the types of plant material can be quite varied. When it comes to what gardeners are putting into containers, the trend is leaning toward just about anything.
At one time annuals were the majority, if not the only type, of plant material being used in containers. Now everything from perennials to small trees and shrubs are being grown.
There are several ways that gardeners can provide overwinter protection for perennial plants.
No matter what type of container the plant is in, make sure the plant material is dormant before bedding it down for the winter. Wait for temperatures to drop to the twenties for several nights and make sure the soil in the container is moist. Plants in moist soil tend to overwinter better that those where the soil is dry.
Potted perennials can also be stored in an unheated building such as a garage or shed where temperatures are slightly above freezing all winter. This inside storage will protect them, but make sure to check on the pots occasionally as they may dry out. If so, apply just a little bit of water to moisten the soil slightly.
Whichever method you choose, leave the plants protected until spring weather conditions moderate and they can be safely moved back into the garden.
Source: Greg Stack, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator
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